Bennet: Washington Should Take Some Cues From Colorado As It Works to Reform Our Broken Health Care System

In Speech, Bennet Pushes for Nationwide Reform as Current Health Care System Continues to Hurt Colorado's Families

Bennet Highlights Medicare Care Transitions Act - Modeled After Successful Program in Mesa County

Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, today continued his push for health care reform, saying that the current system continues to hurt Colorado's families. Bennet urged support for his Medicare Care Transitions Act, which would implement an innovative model of patient care developed in Colorado. The legislation, which is included in the Senate Finance Committee's health care bill, would improve patient care and cut costs in health care.

"The American people cannot go through one more decade like the last decade of having poorer and poorer coverage at a higher and higher cost. That's not the way our system works. And we can do better than that," Bennet said.



Below is a transcript of Bennet's remarks as delivered:

It's a pleasure to be here with my freshman colleagues to talk about health care reform in this country, something that is long overdue if we're going to end the double-digit cost increases that our working families face every single year, if we're going to see small businesses continue to grow and thrive in this economy, lead us out of the recession that we're in.

As the president knows, in our state, we've suffered a lot from the health care system that doesn't work. We see more and more of our families losing their insurance. Fewer and fewer of our employers able to offer insurance, which is something they really want to do to their employees. So it's high time for us to get these costs under control. And that's going to take innovation.

As the president knows, in our state, we haven't waited on Washington. There are great examples of Coloradoans that have pulled together to deliver high-quality health care at a lower cost. A great example in Mesa County, where Grand Junction is, of transitional care, where they have reduced the readmission rates at the hospital to about 2 percent. The national average is roughly 20 percent. One out of every five Medicare patients that's released from the hospital winds up in the hospital in the same month they were released. And there are a lot of reasons for that.

Those of us that have small children or are caring for parents know how many times we have to tell the same story over and over again as we make our way through from one doctor's office to the next. And many people forget to fill out their prescriptions. They don't have the kinds of instructions they need to be able to take responsibility for their own care.

Well, in Mesa County, they've solved that problem by creating a transitional model that makes sure that when patients leave the hospital, they do so with a coach. That coach helps them go from the emergency room to their primary care physician and their mental health provider, makes sure they get the care they need over a period of time. And, Mr. President, I was very pleased that Chairman Baucus included in the finance committee version of this health care reform a piece of legislation that I wrote based on the work in Grand Junction that will compensate, reimburse providers that set up a model like the one in Mesa County that actually saves money. And that's really what this is all about.

This torturous path that we've been on to try to get health care reform done is going to have a very excellent end point, which is to make sure that we're reducing the cost to our working families and at the same time increasing quality. That we're making sure that we're not devoting a fifth of our gross domestic product to health care when every other industrialized country in the world with whom we're competing is devoting less than half that to health care.

There are probably a lot of details in this legislation that still need to be worked out, and I'm sure there's room for improvement. There's always room for improvement. But the American people cannot go through one more decade like the last decade of having poorer and poorer coverage at a higher and higher cost. That's not the way our system works. And we can do better than that.

As Americans, we've shown we can do better than that in Colorado, our state, Mr. President. And I am just so pleased that there are going to be communities all over the country that are going to have the opportunity to learn from each other and provide better transitional care for patients and more patient-centered care as we move through this health care debate. So I'd like to thank the senator from Alaska for organizing this. I will yield the floor to him. Thank you.